Chesapeake Appalachia settles federal water pollution charges

A Chesapeake Energy Corp. subsidiary agreed to spend $6.5 million to restore 27 sites damaged by unauthorized discharges of fill material into streams and wetlands at its West Virginia natural gas production sites to settle charges that it violated the Clean Water Act, the US Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency jointly announced on Dec. 19.

They said Chesapeake Appalachia LLC also agreed under the settlement to implement a comprehensive plan to comply with federal and state water protection laws, and to pay a $3.2 million civil fine. That amount is one of the largest ever imposed for violating the CWA’s Section 404 program, which prohibits the filling or damming of wetlands, rivers, streams, and other US waters without a federal permit.

The federal government and West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) alleged the company impounded streams and discharged sand, dirt, rocks and other fill material into streams and wetlands without a federal permit in order to construct well pads, impoundments, road crossings and other facilities related to gas extraction.

A Chesapeake Energy spokesman said the settlement represents a key milestone in resolving federal and state claims relating to surface construction activities which occurred in West Virginia before November 2010. “The company is fully committed to regulatory compliance and is working with EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and WVDEP to restore the impacted sites,” he said in a Dec. 19 e-mail.

The alleged violations occurred at 27 sites, including 16 which involved hydraulic fracturing, and involved about 12,000 linear ft of stream, or about 2.2 miles, and more than three acres of wetlands, DOJ and EPA jointly said.

Specific requirements

They said Chesapeake Appalachia will be required to fully restore the wetlands and streams wherever feasible, monitor the restored sites for up to 10 years to assure the restoration’s success, and implement a comprehensive compliance program to ensure future compliance with the CWA and applicable state law.

To offset the impacts to sites that cannot be restored, the company will perform compensatory mitigation, which will likely involve purchasing credits from a wetland mitigation bank located in a local watershed, the two federal entities said.

EPA said it discovered some of the violations through information provided by the public and routine inspections. Chesapeake Appalachia also voluntarily disclosed potential violations at 19 of the sites following an internal audit. EPA issued administrative compliance orders for violations at 11 sites in 2010 and 2011. Since that time, the company has been correcting the violations and restoring those sites in full compliance with EPA’s orders, the agency said.

The settlement also resolves alleged violations of state law brought by WVDEP, the two federal entities said. The state is a co-plaintiff in the settlement and will receive half of the civil penalty, they said.

A consent decree, which was lodged Dec. 19 in US District Court for West Virginia’s Northern District, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

Related Articles

EPA delays proposal to regulate methane emissions until 2015

12/19/2014 The US Environmental Protection Agency is delaying plans to issue proposals to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas operations until 2015, O...

BLM starts process to consider new Nevada lease nominations

12/19/2014 The US Bureau of Land Management’s Battle Mountain, Nev., field office is seeking public comment on 197 parcels of public land, totaling 415,921 ac...

California Bay Area advances plan for enhanced refinery regulations

12/19/2014 California’s Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), the public agency responsible for regulating stationary sources of air pollution in...

IEA finds US energy policy improved in latest in-depth review

12/19/2014 US energy policies have come into sharper focus in the last six years, the International Energy Agency said in its latest periodic review. It speci...

Comstock to suspend 2015 oil drilling in Eagle Ford, TMS

12/19/2014 Due to low crude oil prices, Comstock Resources Inc., Frisco, Tex., plans to suspend its 2015 oil-directed drilling activity on properties in the E...

Mexico uses PSCs in first Round One step

12/19/2014 Mexico is offering production-sharing contracts to companies incorporated in the country for exploration of 14 shallow-water areas in Round One bid...

BASF, Gazprom cancel asset swap

12/19/2014

BASF and OAO Gazprom have agreed not to complete an asset swap that was scheduled for yearend.

AWE pulls out of Otway permit

12/19/2014 AWE Ltd., Sydbey, has decided to pull out of Perth-based junior WHL Energy Ltd.’s offshore Otway Basin permit Vic-P67 after a series of time extens...

Jewell names Maryland energy administrator BOEM’s new director

12/18/2014 US Interior Sec. Sally Jewell appointed Abigail Ross Hopper, who currently directs the Maryland Energy Administration, as the new director of the U...

White Papers

AVEVA NET Accesses and Manages the Digital Asset

Global demand for new process plants, power plants and infrastructure is increasing steadily with the ...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Approach for the Digital Asset

To meet the requirements for leaner project execution and more efficient operations while transferring...
Sponsored by

Diversification - the technology aspects

In tough times, businesses seek to diversify into adjacent markets or to apply their skills and resour...
Sponsored by

Engineering & Design for Lean Construction

Modern marketing rhetoric claims that, in order to cut out expensive costs and reduce risks during the...
Sponsored by

Object Lessons - Why control of engineering design at the object level is essential for efficient project execution

Whatever the task, there is usually only one way to do it right and many more to do it wrong. In the c...
Sponsored by

Plant Design for Lean Construction - at your fingertips

One area which can provide improvements to the adoption of Lean principles is the application of mobil...
Sponsored by

How to Keep Your Mud System Vibrator Hose from Getting Hammered to Death

To prevent the vibrating hoses on your oilfield mud circulation systems from failing, you must examine...
Sponsored by

Duty of Care

Good corporate social responsibility means implementing effective workplace health and safety measures...
Sponsored by

Available Webcasts


On Demand

Optimizing your asset management practices to mitigate the effects of a down market

Thu, Dec 11, 2014

The oil and gas market is in constant flux, and as the price of BOE (Barrel of Oil Equivalent) goes down it is increasingly important to optimize your asset management strategy to stay afloat.  Attend this webinar to learn how developing a solid asset management plan can help your company mitigate costs in any market.

register:WEBCAST


Parylene Conformal Coatings for the Oil & Gas Industry

Thu, Nov 20, 2014

In this concise 30-minute webinar, participants have an opportunity to learn more about how Parylene coatings are applied, their features, and the value they add to devices and components.

register:WEBCAST


Utilizing Predictive Analytics to Optimize Productivity in Oil & Gas Operations

Tue, Nov 18, 2014

Join IBM on Tuesday, November 18 @ 1pm CST to explore how Predictive Analytics can help your organization maximize productivity, operational performance & associated processes to drive enterprise wide productivity and profitability.

register:WEBCAST


US HYDROCARBON EXPORTS Part 3 — LNG

Fri, Nov 14, 2014

US LNG Exports, the third in a trilogy of webcasts focusing on the broad topic of US Hydrocarbon Exports.

A discussion of the problems and potential for the export of US-produced liquefied natural gas.

These and other topics will be discussed, with the latest thoughts on U.S. LNG export policy.

register:WEBCAST


Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected